terror & wartravel & foreign lands

“If you don’t like it, don’t fly.”

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There are many people who are willing to give up certain privileges of privacy to ensure safety. I cannot fault anyone for thinking of the safety of their children and loved ones. There is a point, however, where our so-prided ideas of “freedom” and “liberty” are being needlessly handed over because of outright paranoia and the illusion of safety.

First and foremost, I consider myself a true American because I cannot fault the scared masses for their opinion. I have several friends who have served to defend this country, and I have a couple who lost more than they gave. So when someone gets angry with me for being a bad American and questioning the need for full body imaging and pat downs by the TSA, I really do try to understand. It’s a scary world, and we all want to be safe.

All I ever ask from any good American, any person in the world for that matter, is to try to consider facts when formulating their opinion. That they be open to the possibility that there is such a thing as “safety overkill.” That whole blah blah blah from FDR about “fear itself” kind of thing.

Consider:

  • Since 9/11, there has not been a successful terror plot involving an airplane. One guy failed to blow up his shoe. One guy failed to blow up his underwear. During these last 9 years, the years where America has reportedly been in the most danger in history, the years where the color-coded alert level has been Red or Orange on a monthly basis, there have been zero successful plots. I’m not kidding when I say that Kanye West has hijacked more American things than terrorists since 2001.
  • The screening process in place before these procedures was incredibly thorough, but it maintained privacy. You only got a thorough screening if the metal detector didn’t like you. Your shoes got x-rayed, your belt got examined, but between your legs was your own. God bless America.
  • You don’t care if your genitals are shown to a TSA agent for twenty seconds. Great. Truth be told, I don’t care either. I don’t care if a TSA agent gives me a pat down. What to consider isn’t yourself, but your child, your mother, or your niece or nephew. Every single American citizen that chooses to fly. You pay your taxes, you may or may not vote, and you are rewarded by being presumed guilty and having to prove yourself innocent when you try to board a plane that you paid to fly on. You are not a citizen. You are a subject.
  • Our soldiers in Afghanistan are not allowed to search women and children. The TSA is authorized to pat down your daughter, meanwhile, even though you are a citizen of this country. Consider for one brief moment the arrogance of our concern for safety and security; we hand over the very rights that our soldiers put their lives on the line to protect…we simply hand them over to a domestic entity.

I could go on and on and preach and preach. The questions I ask you to consider are as follows. “At what point is the concern for safety considered overkill?” and regarding those troops that we love and support “What message does it send to our soldiers that are giving their lives, dying for their country, that we are readily handing over the very freedoms that they are fighting for?”

Regarding question number one, I have a scenario. I can absolutely guarantee that every single airplane flying over the United States is safe from any of its passengers. We must simply initiate the following procedure:

  1. Purchased tickets come paired with a skin-tight, form-fitting suit. The passenger must wear this under their clothing. At the security gate, the passenger’s clothing will be removed, x-rayed, and checked and the passenger will board the plane wearing their skin-tight air transport uniform.
  2. Airplane seats have been replaced with shark cages. In the event of a water crash, your cage can be used as a shark cage because that’s what it is.
  3. Sit still, shut up, and enjoy the latest Matthew McConaughey flick. But we mean it…don’t you dare say a word during the flight, prole.
  4. Ta-da! No American will ever die ever again.

Does that seem ridiculous? Because for all the people that say, “As long as this makes me safer,” it doesn’t get any safer than that. If you say it is ridiculous to restrain passengers and make everyone wear a uniform to fly, you’re right! It’s ridiculous and offensive to have naked photos taken of our children and/or get patted down before I even board. We can go back and forth all day.

Back to regarding question number two, what exactly have our soldiers been fighting for if we keep handing over our “rights” out of fear? Why has one of my friends lost both of his legs, another one crippled, and two have died? So that life can remain normal here, in the land of the free? We are all as free as ever to spend our money on LCD TV’s and packaged corn syrup. We are all free as ever to choose between 31 flavors of ice cream. We are all free, encouraged, and prompted to attend as many sporting events and political rallies as possible. I’m sure a terrorist will never think of attacking those places. But when it comes to getting on a plane without getting irradiated with experimental machines that show my Danger Zone? Forget it. That’s just crazy talk, Dan.

Somewhere in Afghanistan, one of those soldiers you so avidly support with that bumper sticker is wondering why he even bothers. And we’re all wondering why the US military suicide rate is at an all-time high. Maybe it’s because they’re in legitimate danger while we work so hard on nullifying their hard work.

Give me liberty or give me death” is so 16th century. “Bring ’em on” was just a knee-jerk reaction. The new slogan for America is, “Please keep me safe no matter what. I don’t care what happens, just never let me die. I can’t take care of myself and I’m constantly afraid.” We aren’t a nation of cowboys, we’re a nation of damsels that get tied to the railroad tracks.

So after all that, after all that preaching, after all those confusing statistics, after all that offensive jabbing, after that ridiculous suggestion for how to make air travel safe, and after stepping on forbidden ground by mentioning the troops, I have a simple suggestion.

Instead of you telling me, “If you don’t want the pictures taken of you, or if you don’t want a pat-down, just don’t fly!” how about I tell you this.

If you are unable to get over your irrational fear, as backed up by actual facts…if you insist that every man, woman, and child has their last vestige of privacy removed so that you think the odds of your plane being hijacked or blown up are reduced to zero…if you believe that a terrorist will not simply find a new way to try to inflict terror, one that will encroach on your safety until every passenger on a plane needs to be restrained…if you are so incredibly paralyzed by fear even though the methods in use were working perfectly, catching all of the very few attempts since 2001…

…Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop living in fear.

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4 Responses to ““If you don’t like it, don’t fly.””

  1. Oh bravo, bravo! So well said. I’ve been watching from Canada, all these years, and I keep thinking to myself, “The most powerful country on earth has become the most shiveringly frightened, terrified nation on the planet.” Which means, well, the terrorists really did what they set out to do, didn’t they? Alas.

    Anyway, thank you so much for this! Well said.

  2. Many thanks, Phyl. It wouldn’t get to me as much if it wasn’t for the hypocrisy; we (meaning Americans) cannot at the same time puff out our chest and say we are the greatest nation on Earth and then crawl under a rock every time things get a little bit scary or tough.

    Statistically, I am more likely to die by slipping and falling down the stairs in my home than in a plane crash. On top of that, I am more likely to die in a plane accident than one that is brought about by a terrorist.

    Technically, my bicycle isn’t very safe. I can fall, I can get hit by a car, I can die. So I guess my father was being irresponsible when he taught me to ride it?

  3. Wondering if everyone would like to be blown to hell and back or get scanned. They want to scan my old body so be it maybe I will make it to where I want to go and back again. I think until this world is mature enought to stop the nonsense we need all the help we can get

  4. You have every right to your opinion on the matter, Elizabeth. I think I made it pretty clear I understand concerns for safety, and I don’t believe I was disrespectful to people who differ from my opinion on the matter. Phrases like “I think until this world is mature enough to stop the nonsense,” on the other hand, sound pretty condescending.

    Maturity does not mean accepting what you’re told and refusing to question “what’s good for you.” I asked a couple of very simple questions, and the fact that you didn’t answer them would lead me to think you didn’t even bother to read them.

    If safety is your concern, which is seems to be, then at what point are you safe enough? Because people who want to cause harm to this country aren’t going to magically stop because of the current screenings.

    If a terrorist puts explosives where the sun doesn’t shine, will passengers start receiving mandatory rectal exams?
    If a terrorist finds a way to swallow explosives or weapons, will stomach pumps become procedure?
    You know, in 1995 an angry guy put a bunch of fertilizer in a truck and used it to kill 168 people and injured 680 others. I’m willing to bet that the next attack on our soil will not take place on an airplane. Why bother? Our highways and bridges are much less protected.
    Do we need to start implementing roadside checkpoints?

    What I asked was what your personal line is. If you’re okay with screenings and pat downs, that’s your American right and I won’t criticize you for it. I’m sorry that you feel the need to criticize me.

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